District Schools Improve Overall on PARCC, But Some Schools Still Languish

Blogs, Letters & Testimonials

August 30, 2016


Washington, DC — This morning, the District’s Office of the State School Superintendent (OSSE) released the 2015-2016 Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) scores for public school students in 3rd-8th grades and high school. The results show that, on average, 27% of students in all grades are college-ready in English and 25% in math. This represents a 2% improvement in proficiency rates in English and 3% improvement in math from the 2014-2015 school year. Average proficiency rates improved across almost every grade and subgroup; however, a small handful of schools remained stagnant, or even dropped, in proficiency rates.

Reacting to the results, Democrats for Education Reform DC (DFER DC) Director Catharine Bellinger said: “It’s no surprise that in a city like DC — with a strong parent choice environment and a decade of investment in education reforms — public education outcomes are improving. We have an environment that is one of the most friendly to high-quality, autonomous public schools. Leaders in both the district and public charter sector have provided strong supports, standards, and accountability systems to help schools identify strengths and weaknesses in teaching and learning.

“When we dig into the data, we see incredible promise — but we also see too many children across the District who don’t have access to education that unlocks their full potential,” said Bellinger.

Over a dozen public schools saw double-digit increases in proficiency rates on both English and Math PARCC exams. Regarding this progress, Bellinger said: “These fast-improving schools in both the DCPS and charter sectors show that kids of all backgrounds, from all neighborhoods can achieve at high levels with the right educational opportunities.” Some of the most-improved public charter schools include KIPP DC: Quest Academy in Ward 7, Early Childhood Academy in Ward 8, KIPP DC: Heights Academy in Ward 8, and Friendship PCS – Chamberlain Elementary in Ward 6.  Some of the most-improved open-enrollment DCPS schools include Marie Reed ES in Ward 1, Thomson ES in Ward 2, Stanton ES in Ward 8, and Ketcham ES in Ward 8.

Turning to the most struggling schools in the city, Bellinger added: “Comparing this year’s results to last year’s shows a troubling trend: 33 schools were below 10% proficient in both reading and math two years in a row. This year alone, 69 schools had fewer than 10% of students proficient in at least one subject. And, most troubling, of the 33 schools under 10% proficient in both subjects, 8 schools made zero progress — or even backslid — over the past year. We cannot in good conscience, as a city, consign thousands of students to languish in chronically low-performing schools when we know that school improvement is possible. Improving and investing in these schools must be a major priority for the next chancellor.”

Regarding the results, LaJoy Johnson-Law, a parent of a kindergarten student in Ward 8, reflected: “It’s promising to see the District making progress overall. But as a Ward 8 parent, it’s heartbreaking to know that children in my community are being underserved. Our babies have big dreams — but the reality of school quality in our ward is out of step with the aspirations of our kids.”

Johnson-Law continued: “If we are improving as a city, why are some schools still under-performing? If we know certain programs are working for our kids, let’s replicate them and learn from them. The city can’t shy away from turning these low-performing schools around.”


Contact: Catharine Bellinger, 202-361-9172